There are few things in life more stressful and heart breaking than the death of a loved one. While end-of-life services are a time for loved ones to come together and celebrate a life, these events are also a whirlwind for the grieving. Life for surviving relatives continues after a death, and everyday activities may feel impossible while grieving.
But there's an important step in the grieving process family members and friends should take long after a funeral or memorial service ends: Memorialization.
Memorialization is the act of preserving memories, events or people, and allows individuals to remember and honor their loved one. It comes in many forms—ranging from ceremonies to gatherings to physical pieces of remembrance like a memorial or urn.
“Memorialization is a wonderful way to cherish the fond memories of those departed, while also allowing the living to grieve. In fact, social sciences believe that memorialization is a crucial part of the grieving process.”
No two individuals grieve the same, and it’s impossible to attach a timeline to the grief process. While grieving can cause periods of sadness, anger, stress or anxiety, memorialization helps to honor a loved one’s life and center your emotions, resulting in a healthy grieving experience.
1. It Creates a Central Place to Visit
Many families choose to memorialize a lost loved with an actual memorial or monument. Memorials are created for both buried and cremated loved ones, and create a central place for families and friends to gather or visit alone to memorialize the deceased.
For instance, if your loved one was buried in a cemetery, use the cemetery memorial as a location to congregate. Or if your loved one was cremated and you’ve preserved them in a memorial urn, choose a special place for it to keep them close.
Memorialization can also occur at locations other than a final resting place like your loved one’s favorite park, coffee shop, golf course, garden, etc.
2. It Helps Focus on the Positive
The death of a loved one frequently leads to feelings of negativity or a loss of interest in everyday activities. However, memorialization can help you focus on the happiness you and your deceased loved one once shared. Instead of concentrating on the loss, re-center your thoughts to focus on positivity by memorializing his or her uniqueness and the life experiences you shared together.
When creating an actual, tangible memorial, such as a cemetery marker, urn or monument, consider the uniqueness of your loved one’s life. For instance, perhaps there’s a meaningful quote or positive statement that you could use as an inscription on the memorial.
3. It Brings Loved Ones Together
You can make the grieving process an easier experience by sharing your emotions with loved ones. While a death in the family may bring loved ones close together for a few days to plan and attend a funeral or memorial service, it’s necessary to return home or to work once the events end. While some memorialization practices focus on visiting a memorial, it also presents the opportunity for families come back together to grieve, heal and celebrate their loved one as a group long after a funeral.
Frazer Consultants recommend the following ways to celebrate your loved one and bring family and friends together:
- Memorial release (e.g. dove, lantern, butterfly).
- Cook the loved one’s favorite meal.
- Plant a memorial tree or plant.
- Visit their favorite location (restaurant, coffee shop, park).
Rather than thinking about how your loved one can no longer participate in these activities, consider how they’d want you to remember them. What did they enjoy that they’d hope you’d associate with them?
How Do You Want to Memorialize a Loved One? Get Headstone Design Tips.
A headstone is deeply personal and important to honoring and celebrating those who have passed away.
Uncover even more about memorial design in our Headstone Design Guide. You'll learn what questions to ask before purchasing a memorial, as well as headstone design tips and options.